HARRISBURG – In an effort to better protect victims of crime and abuse, today the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation authored by Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny) that would shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
“The journey to court for victims of these horrendous crimes is very difficult and painful,” said Mihalek. “As a legislative body, I believe it’s our duty to make that journey a little less painful, so I am pleased that my colleagues supported and passed this legislation.”
Victims of sexual crimes can be re-victimized during court proceedings when they are asked about times in the past that they suffered as a victim.
House Bill 504
expands the rape shield law to cover prior sexual victimizations. Under current state law, evidence of a victim’s prior sexual history is prevented from being introduced in court when that evidence is intended to be used to undermine his or her credibility, however, it does not cover instances when the victim has been sexually victimized in the past.
Mihalek’s legislation also expands the number of crimes to which the rape shield law would apply to cover additional sexual crimes such as human trafficking, incest, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children and the sexual exploitation of children.
House Bill 504 is a part of a package of bills designed to better protect crime victims from abuse and violence by helping those who are victimized to testify against and confront their abusers.
To watch Mihalek’s comments regarding her legislation, click here
The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
Representative Natalie Mihalek
40th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Brooke Haskell